Monday, September 18, 2017

Gaithersburg Mayor & Council to consider height waiver for Olde Towne property

Gaithersburg's Mayor and Council will consider a request for a height waiver from the owner of the "Fishman property" at their meeting tonight at 7:30 PM at City Hall. The Olde Towne property is located at 315 E. Diamond Avenue.

There is currently a four-story height limit on the site, and Ellisdale Construction is seeking the waiver to allow a six-story apartment building with ground floor retail. There will also be an accessory parking garage of three stories.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gaithersburg Mayor & Council to review options for new City Council chambers (Photos)

Gaithersburg's Mayor and Council will review two architectural options for the future relocated City Council chambers (which will be moved to 16 South Summit Avenue) tonight. There is an option for an attached Mayor & Council conference room and overflow seating area. City leaders will also ponder a range of options for interior finishes.

Officials will be looking at the costs of each option, and comment on the possible materials to be used. Architectural firm ShraderGroup will then present a final design proposal to the Mayor & Council at their November 27 meeting. Tonight's work session will begin at 7:30 PM at City Hall.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Montgomery Village Wendy's to get makeover

The Wendy's at 18350 Contour Road in Montgomery Village will be getting a makeover. A $250,000 interior renovation is planned for the near future. This a national effort Wendy's calls a "brand transformation," that includes remodeling of restaurants across America to include fireplaces, more inviting seating options, and flatscreen TVs and Wi-Fi.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gaithersburg Planning Commission to consider Verizon request for cell tower atop Cadence at Crown apartments tonight (Photos)

The Gaithersburg Planning Commission tonight will examine a request by Verizon Communications for a "stealth" cell tower atop the Cadence at Crown apartment building, located at 113 Ellington Boulevard in Downtown Crown. This will consist of panel antennas, some of which will be hidden, but others will match the building materials while being visible from the street below.
Views of how the tower panels
atop Cadence at Crown will appear
A 200' fenced equipment area will also be added to the top of the parking garage, but will not take any existing parking spaces. City staff is recommending approval of the cell tower, with conditions.

Commissioners will also consider a new building sign approval requested by Fitzgerald Automotive for their dealership at 904 Russell Avenue. The sign would be 22.4 SF in size. Staff is also recommending approval for this agenda item.

The meeting will be tonight, Wednesday, September 6, 2017, at 7:30 PM at City Hall.

Debate excluding Republican candidate still charging $70 to get in on website

Debate ticket order form
still showing $70 admission fee
for general public this morning
Responding to a public backlash against the idea of charging voters $70 to hear three Democratic candidates for Montgomery County Executive debate on November 15, event co-sponsor Bethesda Magazine announced on its website yesterday morning that the entry fee would be waived, and the debate open to the public. But Republican candidate Robin Ficker, who remains excluded from the debate, questions why the forum's other sponsor is still charging the $70 admission fee on their website.

As of press time, the debate ticket order form on the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce website still shows admission charges for members and non-members of the Chamber. It's possible that people are still buying tickets without knowing the event is now free.

Ficker and others continue to press for his inclusion in the debate. A non-profit hosting a debate that promotes only one of the several political parties active in the County raises some questions. Organizations with tax exemptions cannot endorse candidates or parties unless the expenditures are through a separate political action committee. The Chamber has operated such PAC in the past, but it is not listed as the sponsor of this debate.

Another reason Republicans are wary of Ficker's exclusion is that, in heavily-blue Montgomery County, few debates are held after the primaries. Republican, Green Party, Libertarian and independent candidates are given few public forums to reach voters then, and so it is urgent that organizations include them in primary season debates.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gaithersburg to consider buying house on MD 355 for Olde Towne revitalization tonight (Photo)

Gaithersburg's Mayor and Council will consider purchasing a house at 305 S. Frederick Avenue at their meeting tonight. A resolution approving the purchase has been prepared for tonight's agenda. The City has already three other homes adjacent to this property, with the stated purpose of revitalizing both the MD 355 corridor there, and Olde Towne Gaithersburg. If the property is acquired, the City will then have assembled a contiguous parcel just shy of one acre.

Ficker blasts County Executive debate hosts for inviting only Democrats, charging $70 for tickets

Montgomery County Executive candidate
Robin Ficker is mobbed by supporters
after speaking at County Council building
earlier this year
Republican Montgomery County Executive candidate Robin Ficker strongly criticized news that he has been excluded from a November 15 debate hosted by the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce and Bethesda Magazine. Only the three Democrats who have filed for the office so far - Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal - are invited to participate. Ficker said that, in contrast, the Montgomery County Muslim Council has asked him to be part of their September 23 County Executive candidate forum at the Potomac Community Center on Falls Road at 10:30 AM.

Ficker and County Republican Party Chairman Dick Jurgena questioned the non-partisan status of the hosts in a statement released this morning by the Ficker campaign. "Is this just a dog and pony (or should I say circus animals) show to help the Democrat particpants to energize their base?" Jurgena asked. Ficker charged that the Chamber enjoys non-profit tax status, but is displaying favor toward one political party.

"Obviously there is a quid pro quo between the council member-county executive candidates and the Chamber," Ficker alleged.  "By promoting their candidacies, the Chamber is not only taking advantage of these public office positions to collect $70 a head, but the council members must have promised the Chamber something in return for holding this campaign forum. What is the quid pro quo?"

Both men also questioned the admission price of $70 for non-Chamber members. "If [County] residents want to hear only one side of the issues, they can go to the Montgomery County Council meetings and listen to the term-limited Democrats, and they can save the cost of the $70.00 ticket fee for admission," Jurgena said. Chamber President and CEO Ginanne Italiano said the high price is due to the debate's inclusion in the Chamber's annual legislative event, and that ticketholders would have access to an open bar cocktail reception afterward.

Ficker took a shot at the three Democrats invited, noting that all are barred from running for their current Council seats, due to voters overwhelmingly approving Ficker's term limits ballot question last November. "If these Term Limited County Executive candidates want to hold a forum hosted by a political party club, exclude me and charge party members $1,000 to attend, that is fine with me," he said. "But when a nonprofit Chamber of Commerce holds a County Executive forum, they should invite candidates of both parties and should accommodate Montgomery Countians to listen for free."